Is you Risk Profile really ever achieved?
It’s been some time since I approached the “Risk Assessment Continuum” articles.
I have had some time to reflect and observe construction in South Africa.
Now I am not entering the SACPCMP debate, however the Construction Regulations together with the SACPCMP guidelines for standard services and deliverables are definitely an ever changing field of study.
Einstein & Construction Safety Equilibrium
I tried to come up with some theory, yet failed miserably, however I remembered Einstein’s equation E = MC².
If E equaled the equilibrium of a safe working environment then management (M) of the particular construction project multiplied by the Contractors and effectiveness of its Safety personnel (C²), the project would meet its objectives of being built to specification, on time and within budget.
Any project would then need to be constantly as dynamic as possible in order to remain at this equilibrium.
Not focusing on the equation but on the areas required to be identified and specified in terms of the Construction Regulations requirements, namely the Risk Profile Identified and Risk Profile Actual, as the construction project progresses is of utmost importance and the topic of this article.
How to compromise a Risk Profile
The Risk Profile Identified is the one at the start of the construction project, it is the profile upon which the project begins, budgets are drawn up against, designs are made too, and schedule is fixed to etc.
The Risk Profile Actual are those decisions which either reduce those identified risks or those decisions taken that negatively affect the initial Risk Profile, thus increasing the risk to the construction project.
Example: The initial schedule has been determined as taking 700 working days, the schedule had been resourced and the baseline was in place. Management take a decision 2 months into the project that the facility is needed within 500 days, because orders have been placed. The new baseline is now set at 500 days, the same resourcing, the same facility is required, equilibrium has been altered significantly, and thus the Actual Risk Profile is way off the Identified (or Initial) Risk Profile for the project.
This construction project is now placed under extreme pressure, plans are made to meet the new schedule, new designs are sought, the budget may or may not be changed, each appointed contractor is trying to find ways to meet the new schedule dates, and the Baseline Risk Assessments that may have been submitted to the Department of Labour are now different, as are the specifications, and the Health & Safety Plan.
I speak in the true sense of Health & Safety Specifications, (not those that I see 99% of the time that are just a regurgitation of the Construction Regulations – never do I see the actual Health & Safety Specification of the design or Health & Safety Specification of the material, Etc.) being altered, the Construction Safety Equilibrium has now been compromised.
I have observed this shift in Risk Profile on many construction projects both locally and internationally and, I have come to the conclusion that it will always be a factor, almost a constant in mathematical terms. I have also witnessed that the simultaneous construction issues are almost as bad, and not addressed adequately, if at all.
Example: Civils normally are the base of all projects, yet I have seen many instances where civils for example have first done the base/foundation, then structural steel/mechanical have taken over, the civils guys work around them (Simultaneous Construction) yet no Risk Assessment interface is done.
Although the Construction Regulations alludes to it in terms of CR5(4), what is termed a SIMCON or Simultaneous Construction Risk Assessment, (in Oil And Gas Terms a SIMOPS), is never done. (When I introduced this on one of my jobs it was first frowned upon, now I get asked to help do them).
I have seen the risk continuum extend, change and be manipulated. One thing however is always for certain, the overall risk profile is always compromised,
I have yet to see one that has swung totally in favour of mitigation, or even where the Initial Risk Profile was ever achieved.
The above two examples clearly demonstrate that (M) management decisions (in this case I refer to the project director/manager and the construction manager) and (C²) the contractors and the Health and Safety advice given / used / implemented, plus many other factors, result in a skewed statistic towards having an injury or incident.
If I put it another way, if we reduce the time (schedule alone) in which a project should be done, with the same number of resources, it impacts on; the working hours (increase them per day/week/month), redesign as quick as possible, which will change our purchasing strategies, quality and constructability plans, our construction plan, our contracts, our deliverables and standard services (if we talk in SACPCMP terms), our Risk Assessments and most probably our Health & Safety Specifications.
Lost equilibrium leads to a clash of objectives
It will definitely impact on our Health & Safety Plan and therefore its execution. Our Risk Profile Actual is completely different to the Initial Risk Profile – IT IS NOW THE TIME TO BE AWARE.
Now the challenge is for that Health and Safety practitioner to take this to management, the Project Director/ Manager and Construction Manager. It is possibly the most difficult task the Health & Safety professional will have.
It normally always starts with a clashing of the objectives – Production vs Health and Safety, and may end either with success or not.
I am sure that those reading this article have experienced this. You may have even used the Monte Carlo Simulation model or others to assess some of the project risks, but the fact still remains that it’s the workers in the field who are at risk while we fight for equilibrium.
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